Birth as indigenous resistance: Naomi Simmonds, ‘Transformative Maternities: Indigenous Stories as Resistance and Reclamation in Aotearoa New Zealand’, in Margaret Robertson, Po Keung Eric Tsang (eds), Everyday Knowledge, Education and Sustainable Futures: Transdisciplinary Approaches in the Asia-Pacific Region, 2016, pp. 71-88
Abstract: This chapter seeks to illustrate the transformative potential of local Indigenous knowledges pertaining to birth and mothering. In Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori (Indigenous peoples of New Zealand) stories, knowledges and traditions can serve to reconceptualise dominant maternities and ultimately transform the lived realities of women, their babies and their families. There are powerful and potent ways to reconceptualise maternities within Māori knowledge, particularly through understandings of land, language and spirituality. It is argued that the expression of our experiences as Māori women from a perspective that upholds the mana (power and prestige) and sanctity of birth and of mothering is a powerful act of resistance and decolonisation. Further, reclaiming Māori maternal knowledges has the power to transform the lived experiences of birth by (re)asserting the self-determination of women, of their babies and of their whānau (family) and, thus, the self-determination of Māori communities.
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